The D9Sports Tournament of Champions is in full swing, and it’s time for the Girls’ South Region first round, the last first-round region on the girls’ side.
(Photo of the 2019 Kane team that won its first-ever D9 title with a victory in 2A and then advanced to the PIAA quarterfinals. Photo by Tessa Boschert. Check out more of Boschert’s work here)
The top four seeds include No. 1 2003 Coudersport, No. 2 2019 Kane, No. 3 2014 Clarion, and No. 4 2018 North Clarion.
Here is how this works. You have until 11:59 p.m. Thursday to vote for which team you think is the best in each matchup. At that point, the winners will advance into the Round of 32.
(17) 2001 Brookville vs. (1) 2003 Coudersport
Brookville, which beat 2006 Karns City 53 percent to 47 percent in the play-in round to advance to the Round of 64, went 14-13 in 2001 under Jon Benton and beat Clearfield, 48-30, to win the District 9 Class 3A title before losing to Lewistown, 86-51, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. Senior Piere Ondrasik was named a first-team All-District 9 player after averaging 17.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. She scored 1,174 career points and blocked 273 blocked shots, which set the school record at the time.
Coudersport, coached by Matt Splain, went 28-2 in 2003 and beat Cameron County, 40-37, in the District 9 Class 1A title game before advancing all the way to the PIAA semifinals by beating Juniata Valley, 66-54, Sewickley Academy, 59-38, Serra Catholic, 54-42, before losing to eventual PIAA champion Bishop Carroll, 53-33, in the semifinals. Splain was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year, while Danyelle Whitman (11 ppg, 10 rpg) was a first-team District 9 All-District player.
(9) 2019 Punxsutawney vs. (8) 2014 Bradford
Punxsutawney went 22-2 in 2019 and beat St. Marys, 44-23, in the D9 Class 4A title game before Mike Carlson’s team lost to Blackhawk, 70-46, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. The Lady Chucks were led by a pair of District 9 second-team selections in senior Kate Horner (9.9 ppg, 3.0 apg, 2.5 spg, 2.0 rpg, 40 3-pointers) and sophomore Sarah Weaver (10.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.0 apg, 2.5 spg, 27 3-pointers).
In 2014, Bradford, under first-year head coach Bob Hannon, went 21-3 and beat Punxsutawney, 31-18, to win the D9 Class 3A title before losing to Elizabeth-Forward, 52-30, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. The Lady Owls were led by first-team All-District 9 selection Ali Rinfrette (13.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 4.8 apg, 57 percent shooting), who went on to a stellar career at Pitt-Bradford after scoring 1,201 career points at Bradford High.
(12) 2018 Brookville vs. (5) 2010 St. Marys
Brookville went 19-6 in 2018 under Mark Powell and beat Karns City, 46-39, in the D9 3A title game before winning its first PIAA playoff game in 33 years when it topped Northwestern, 53-46, in the first round before losing to East Allegheny, 60-34, in the second round. Powell was named the co-D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year with North Clarion’s Terry Dreihaup, while sophomore Marcy Schindler (10.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg, 2.2 spg, 1.8 apg) was a third-team All-District 9 selection.
St. Marys, under the direction of Bob Swanson, went 22-3 in 2010 and beat Punxsutawney, 49-42, to win the D9 3A title before topping Hampton, 64-55, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs behind an unbelievable performance by Kayla Ho’ohuli. Ho’ohuli, a junior, erupted for 52 points, 10 rebounds, nine steals and five blocked shots in the victory and at one point scored 23 consecutive points for the Lady Dutch while scoring 33 of her team’s 36 second-half points. St. Marys lost to Chartiers Valley, 70-45, in the second round. Ho’ohuli, who was on her way to 2,604 career points, was the D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year for the second straight year – she won the award three straight season – after averaging 30.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.3 steals and 4.4 assists per game and hitting 88 3-pointers. She blocked 85 shots n the year as well and scored 30 or more points 11 times and 40 or more five times with the 52-point game. She was a first-team All-State player in Class 3A and ended her junior season with 1,951 career points.
(13) 2003 Karns City vs. (4) 2018 North Clarion
Karns City, under Chris Bellis, the current boys’ coach at the school, finished 21-6 in 2003 and beat Redbank Valley, 44-39, to win the D9 Class 2A title before losing in the first round of the PIAA playoffs to North East, 49-47. Junior Katie Kepple, on her way to 1,467 career points, was a first-team All-District 9 selection after averaging 17 points, 3 steals, and 2.5 assists per game.
North Clarion in 2018 went 27-1 and beat A-C Valley, 52-49, to win the District 9 Class 1A title, its second in a row, and then topped Cornell, 54-46, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs before losing in overtime to Farrell, 63-58, in the second round. Senior Tori Obenrader was the D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year for the second straight year and a first-team Class 1A All-State player for the second consecutive year after averaging 24.2 points and 15.1 rebounds per game while adding 3.5 assists, 2.6 steals, and 1.5 blocks per contest. She recorded double-doubles in 24 of her 28 games and scored 25 or more points 13 times while topping 30 points three times. She also had 15 or more rebounds 16 times, including four games of at least 20, and shot 54.5 percent from the field while hitting 36 3-pointers. She finished her career with a school-record 2,115 points, the fifth-most in D9 history, and 1,560 rebounds. She is currently playing at NCAA D2 Gannon were she led the Knights to the PSAC Title and was named the PSAC Tournament MVP after also garnering first-team All-PSAC West honors in 2020 after being the PSAC West Freshman of the Year in 2019. Head coach Terry Dreihaup was named the co-D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year along with Brookville’s Mark Powell.
(11) 2010 Cranberry vs. (6) 2007 Union
Cranberry, under Chrissy Shumaker, went 22-4 in 2010 and beat Kane, 47-25, to win the D9 2A title before losing to South Fayette, 44-42, when Lizzy King hit the go-ahead layup with 9 seconds to play before blocking a Hannah Heeter shot with five seconds left. Heeter, who went on to have a fantastic two-sport (volleyball and basketball) career at Clarion University where she went over 1,000 points in just a little over three years, was a first-team All-District 9 selection after averaging 20.4 points and 13.7 rebounds per game while blocking 45 shots and shooting 61.3 percent from the field.
Josh Meeker’s 2007 Union squad was coming off a PIAA semifinals appearance in 2006 but had to replace co-D9Sports.com District 9 Players of the Year Andrea Mortimer and Bethany Koch. The Golden Damsels did so going 27-4 and winning their third straight D9 1A title with a 67-55 win over Coudersport. They then beat Ferndale, 49-38, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs before losing to Mt. Alvernia, 77-64, in the second round. Senior Tiffany Corle, who scored 1,108 career points, was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year after averaging 17.5 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.7 steals per game and scoring 20 or more points 12 times. Meeker was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year for the fourth straight season.
(14) 2016 Punxsutawney vs. (3) 2014 Clarion
Punxsutawney, under Mike Carlson, went 20-5 in 2016 beating Bradford, 36-28, to win the District 9 Class 3A title before losing to Hampton, 41-27, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. The Lady Chucks were paced by D9Sports.com Rookie of the Year and second-team selection Leah Miller (11.2 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 2.5 bpg, 1.8 spg, 1.4 apg), who went on to score 1,037 career points and now is a key player for NCAA D2 Chestnut Hill.
Clarion went 22-7 in 2014 and beat Keystone, 63-52, to win the D9 1A title before topping Frazier, 47-40, and Quigley Catholic, 41-33, to reach the PIAA quarterfinals were it lost to Bishop Guilfoyle, 55-45. Junior Maci Thornton led the Roger Walter-coached Lady Cats and was a first-team All-D9 selection after averaging 15.6 points per game on her way to 1,579 career points, the second-most in school history. She went on to score over 1,000 points at NCAA D3 Messiah College. Kyla Miles (16.0 ppg) was a second-team All-District 9 selection.
(10) 2004 Karns City vs. (7) 2020 Coudersport (Note on the bracket it says 2002 but it should say 2020)
Karns City, coached by Chris Bellis, the current boys’ coach at the school, went 21-6 in 2004 and beat Redbank Valley, 44-28, to win the D9 2A title before topping Maplewood, 58-31, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs then losing to Greensburg Central Catholic, 59-45, in the second round. Senior Katie Kepple, who scored 1,467 career points and hit 211 career pointers, which was believed to be the D9 record at the time, was the co-D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year alongside Punxsutawney’s Staci Heberling and was also named a third-team All-State Class 2A player after averaging 18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 3.0 steals per game. She scored 20 or more points 11 times and shot 80 percent from the free-throw line on the year.
In 2020, Coudersport was 22-4 and in the PIAA quarterfinals in Class 1A when the season came to an abrupt halt because of COVID-19. The Lady Falcons, under Bob Tingley, beat North Clarion, 42-40, to win the District 9 Class 1A title and then topped Avella, 48-41, in the first round of the PIAA tournament before knocking off Blacklick Valley, 54-46, in the second round. Coudersport was led by the NTL MVP Sarah Chambers (13.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.7 spg, 2.6 apg, 4.2 bpg) as well as Rosalyn Page (9.4 ppg), Mikayla Gunn (8.2 ppg), and Lauren Stimaker (7.7 ppg).
(15) 2015 Venango Catholic vs. (2) 2019 Kane
Tom McNellie’s Venango Catholic squad went 21-7 in 2015 and won its first-ever District 9 title (and its first since winning the D10 crown in 1980) with a 35-22 win over Clarion in Class 1A before losing to California, 40-28, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs. McNellie was named the D9Sports.com Coach of the Year, while junior Ava Homan (19.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.0 spg, 1.3 apg; Shot 49.2 percent (157 of 319) from the field; Shot 76.3 percent (122 of 160) from the free-throw line) was a first-team All-District 9 selection and senior Taylor Moltz (16.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 spg, 1.0 apg; Shot 41.8 percent (147 of 352) from the field including 37.8 percent (62 of 164) from the 3-point range; Shot 77.2 percent (95 of 123) from the free-throw line) was a second-team choice. Both players scored 1,000 points in their careers with Homan finishing with 1,230 and Moltz, who went on to a solid career at D2 Clarion University, 1,290.
Kane went 25-4 in 2019 and beat A-C Valley, 61-52, in overtime to win the D9 Class 2A title, the first for the Lady Wolves, who then beat Saegertown, 45-29, in the first round of the PIAA playoffs and Brentwood, 52-47, in the second round before losing to West Middlesex, 61-31, in the quarterfinals. Ella Marconi, the school’s all-time leading scorer with 1,723 career points, was named the D9Sports.com District 9 Player of the Year after averaging 22.9 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.2 blocks and 1.0 assists per game and shooting 64.9 percent from the field and 71.0 percent from the free-throw line. Fellow senior Hannah Buhl (9.6 ppg, 6.1 spg, 2.5 to 1 assists-to-turnover ratio; Shot 40.1 percent from 3-point range while making 69 3-pointers) was a second-team All-District 9 selection, and head coach Dave Kiehl was the D9sports.com District 9 Coach of the Year.